By AMY JO STEINBRUECKER
American Cancer Society
Summer is upon us and the Friday prior to Memorial Day weekend has been designated by the American Cancer Society and the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention as “Don’t Fry Day,” to encourage sun safety awareness.
As you head outdoors this holiday weekend and throughout the summer, Don’t Fry Day is a good reminder to protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, wearing clothing that limits the amount of skin exposed and a wide-brimmed hat, as well as sunglasses to protect your eyes and the skin around them.
While skin cancer is largely preventable, it continues to be the most common type of cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year, more than breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers combined. Although melanoma accounts for less than 2 percent of all skin cancer cases, it is the most deadly form of skin cancer, with 73,870 cases and more than 9,900 deaths expected in the U.S. in 2015.
In Indiana, approximately 1,460 cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed this year, and more than 240 patients are expected to die from the disease.
“It’s important to remember that skin cancer comes from UV radiation exposure and to protect your skin during the peak times from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day,” explains Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. “A tan isn’t worth putting yourself at risk of a skin cancer diagnosis.”
Thankfully there is an easy way to reduce your risk of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society reminds you to “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap” to protect yourself from harmful UV radiation:
- Slip on a shirt
- Slop on broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher
- Slap on a hat
- Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around them from ultraviolet light.
An important part of sun safety is knowing what to look for and being able to identify skin cancer early. Use the ABCD rule to look for any suspicious or unusual moles:
- Asymmetry—one half of the mole does not match the other.
- Border—edges of the mole are irregular (blurred, ragged).
- Color—color is not uniform and may have patches of pink, red, white or black.
- Diameter—melanoma moles are usually larger than 1/4 inch, but this is not always the case.
Additionally, any change in appearance on your skin should be checked out by a medical professional.
“It is imperative to catch skin cancer early, when it is in its most treatable and curable stages,” said Lichtenfeld. “Nothing increases cancer survival rates more than early detection, and nothing lowers skin cancer rates more than prevention. Enjoy the great outdoors this summer, but remember to protect your skin while exposed to UV rays. Wearing a broad spectrum sunblock is just one way to prevent skin damage, but don’t forget to reapply often and cover your skin with clothing or seek shade.”
For more information on skin cancer detection or prevention, contact the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345 or visit cancer.org.